Your Question: What are the signs of a cold and what do I do when I have a cold with asthma? I mean, how do I know if it's just a cold or worsening asthma?
Great questions. For starters, here are the symptoms of asthma. With asthma you should know these like the back of your hands. And here is a good article that should help you distinguish the common cold with allergies. And here is yet another that should help you distinguish between viral infection or bacterial. It's not always easy to know the difference. There have been times in the past when I felt like I had to have an infection, when my doctor assured me it was just asthma. Yet it should also be known that the #1 trigger of asthma is a virus that causes the common cold.
When you show early signs of asthma you should resort to your asthma action plan. If you don't have an asthma action plan then this is something to discuss with your doctor.Yet if you show signs of a cold even before that, you should call your doctor. If it's a virus there's not much you can do for the cold but treat the symptoms, and treat your asthma as appropriate. Yet if you need it, your doctor can give you a short trial of oral prednisolone to make your lungs stronger so they can more readily fight off the infection.If what you have is a bacteria, your doctor will give you an antibiotic. Depending on how bad your asthma is, he may also give you that plus a short boost of oral corticosteroids.
Regardless, the wisest asthmatics I've met in my career as an RT are the ones who are wise to the early signs of asthma and viral and bacterial infections so they can seek EARLY treatment. The earlier you seek treatment, the better the chance of preventing a worsening of your condition.
So your best course of action is to be asthma smart, do lots of reading, be vigilant to your early signs of asthma, and become a team with your doctor.